Articles Posted in Communications Law

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Appellant, Horry Telephone Cooperative Inc. (HTC), is a telecommunications company providing services in the Georgetown and Horry County areas. In 2007, as required by the South Carolina Competitive Cable Services Act, HTC filed for a state-issued certificate of franchise authority, where it sought to provide cable television services in the City of Georgetown (City). The Secretary of State, pursuant to 58-12-310, forwarded the notice of application to the City which was required to respond to the request within 65 days. On second reading from a city council meeting, the request was denied. The City informed the Secretary of State of the denial, and notice was sent to HTC informing them that their franchise for the City of Georgetown had been denied. HTC filed for reconsideration, which was ultimately denied. Finally, HTC applied for a third time, and after consideration, the application was tabled and subsequently failed. HTC then filed a declaratory judgment action in circuit court to declare that the City's denial was unlawful under the Act. The circuit court held a bench trial and ruled that the Act did not create a private cause of action and the City's denial of HTC's consent request was a reasonable and valid exercise of legislative discretion. Consequently, the circuit court dismissed HTC's complaint with prejudice. This issue on appeal to the Supreme Court was whether the City's denial HTC's multiple franchise applications was a violation of the Act. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded it was not, and affirmed the circuit court. View "Horry Telephone v. City of Georgetown" on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court in this case was whether the Alltel Entities (collectively Petitioners Alltel Communications, Inc. and its regional subsidiaries), were included in the definition of "telephone company" for the purpose of increased license fees in S.C. Code Ann. section 1220-100 (2000). Pursuant to cross motions for summary judgment, the Administrative Law Court (ALC) granted summary judgment in favor of Petitioners, finding that they were not telephone companies for purposes of section 12-20-100. Alternatively, the ALC found that if the statute were ambiguous, Petitioners would prevail under the rule that an ambiguity in a taxing statute must be construed in favor of the taxpayer. Though the court of appeals recognized that the application of section 12-20-100 to Petitioners was not "absolutely clear," it reversed the grant of summary judgment and remanded the matter to the ALC for additional fact finding. Upon review, the Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and reinstated the ALC's grant of summary judgment in favor of Petitioners. The term "telephone company" was not a defined term and its application to Petitioners was "doubtful." The presence of an ambiguity in a tax assessment statute requires that a court resolve that doubt in favor of the taxpayer. View "Alltel v. SCDOR" on Justia Law